Henry and Joel were one of the first gay couples to adopt in Florida after the gay adoption ban was overturned in that state. Now they are loving parents to a beautiful baby boy.

First Name: Henry
Partner’s First Name: Joel
Age: 48
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Number of Children: 1, Benjamin

When did you decide you wanted children? 
I have always know I wanted children, just didn’t know how or when it would happen.

How did you decide to either biologically have a child or adopt a child? 
Well my husband and I decided to pursue adoption in Florida when they stopped enforcing the ban in September of 2010. We were part of the first openly Gay and Lesbian group to pass through the qualification class (MAPP) with Florida’s Dept. Of Children and Families. Our adoption, however, was not state related, we were fortunate enough to meet a woman who was pregnant and knew she could not keep her baby.

Did you share your journey with your family and friends? If so, have they been supportive?
Not initially. There are so many variables with private adoption; for example, what if mom has a change of heart? What if something happens to the baby? We literally kept it quiet, except to our immediate family and friends, until after Ben was born and until after the legal 48 hours bio-moms are given to sign the final agreement forms in the hospital post delivery. Needless to say it was a BIG surprise to many, and yes….everyone was very supportive.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced raising a child as a Gay couple?
Ben is only 7 months old so presently its all rainbows and butterflies.

What do you wish you would have known before you started? 
I wish we would have trusted in our abilities more and not let our preconceived notions of what we could or should do act as hurdles.

What was your biggest setback in the process?
No real set backs. We are like a little locomotive – once we saw our goal in site we just kept moving forward.

Did you ever consider giving up? 

How has your life changed during this process? Before having kids and after having kids? 

Parenthood is an awesome, all encompassing experience, I believe it solidified our marriage and gave us a beautiful new purpose. Before kids we pretty much lived our lives in a way that naturally made having our son organic and easy.

How much did you budget for the process? How much has the process cost so far? What were the actual costs and how were they different from what was planned?
Well since we originally planned on adopting through the state, we had never really set aside a budget for a private adoption. We had researched other methods including agencies and surrogates and that was all truly more than we thought we could handle. The way our adoption worked out was ideal, we pretty much paid bits by bits, much easier to swallow. All in all, attorneys fees and bio-moms expenses were just above $20 grand.

Was your state a challenge to the process? How did it impact your decisions, if at all?
We live in Florida, one of the worst states for LGBT rights. Although they stopped enforcing the ban, allowing for gays and lesbians to adopt, we still had the challenge of being recognized as a same gendered couple. We believe that having our marriage license from MA coupled with an amazing Judge enabled us to be the first same sex couple to jointly adopt here in our county. We are both on our son’s birth certificate (albeit as Parent 1 and Parent 2), and that makes us very proud.

Will you prepare your children to answer questions about their donor?
We will keep a file on his bio-mom and share that with him when he’s ready. In the mean time he will know that his mother made the best choice she could, he will know he was chosen and that we waited a long time just for him.

Would you be willing to share the name of the sperm bank or other resources you used and why?
Our Fantastic Attorney, Jon Schiller with Brinkley Morgan in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. He helped us make our family and a little history along the way.

Any other advice, comments, or misc. wisdom about the gay parenting process?
Don’t let ANYONE tell you it’s impossible!

Henry Amador is the author of the DADsquared blog, where he writes about his experiences as a Gay Dad. Along with his husband, Joel, he also runs the DADsquared Facebook page, where they are devoted to building a community of loving fathers: gay, straight, black, white, and everything in between.

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